Something else that came up in class is combing fiber. I’ve been doing this a long time so I get the general idea, but only with hand-held combs. Now that I have somewhere to mount my combs, I got the pad that goes with them and started experimenting. I cut up a plastic jug to make a diz, too. I’m not happy with my combing attempt because one of the clamps gets in the way, but it was enough to get the idea. Pulling off top with the diz was more successful, so probably I’ll do that while I work out the issues with using the combs. I need to experiment with different size holes in the diz, I made some blanks and punched a hole in one with a small knitting needle. (If you make some, be sure to punch the hole from the inside of the curve to the outside. That’s the way the fiber is pulled, so it won’t snag on the rough edge.)

This brings up the never-ending discussion on which end to spin from. When I comb or flick fleece, I spin from the cut end. It just works better for me. Some people spin from the tip end. I did an experiment and tried spinning from both ends of the same hand-combed top. I also used short backward draft, my usual, and short forward draft. Either way, spinning from the cut end makes smooth yarn and spinning from the tip end doesn’t. I can’t smooth it out and the fiber just feels nasty in my hands. I thought that maybe the no-deathgrip-pinch short forward draft was the difference, but no.

Many people also say it matters which end of a commercial top you spin from, too. I can’t tell the difference with short backward draft and only a little with short forward draft. I do notice it more with cotton, but not only is that an entirely different kind of fiber structure and size, but a different spinning technique. You can’t do any sort of worsted short draft with cotton, there just isn’t enough length to be able to pull out half a staple length with your fingers.

I keep trying all these things to see what people see in them. Once in a while I find something that really works for me, but mostly I just wonder what all the fuss is about. I’m all for understanding traditional methods, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to just assume that is the best and only way without checking things out myself.

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